The beaches of the Marmara Sea in Turkey have been suffering for weeks from what’s called “sea mucus,” a thick layer of natural slime that threatens marine life and fisheries. Ports, coasts and parts of sea water are covered with a dirty, sticky, gray substance. In some cases, the snout has already settled, suffocating life on the inland sea floor.
Naturally occurring slime was first identified in Turkey in 2007. But this outbreak is now the largest ever. Scientists attribute it to a combination of marine pollution and global warming, which is accelerating the growth of the algae responsible for the sticky sludge.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the outbreak on polluted water from cities, including Istanbul, and has vowed to “cleanse our seas from the plague of mud”. Turkey’s Environment Minister Murat Kurum announced on Sunday that there will be an emergency plan to combat the sea breeze.
The exact details of that plan are still unknown. The Minister of Environment explained that the entire Sea of Marmara will become a protected area and that better treatment of wastewater from coastal cities should be provided. He called on local residents and NGOs to come together today, Tuesday, to begin what he called Turkey’s largest marine clean-up ever.
“Together we hope that we can protect our sea as part of our contingency plan,” Corum said of a research vessel that sampled the gunk.
“We will take all necessary steps over the next three years and realize projects that will not only save the present, but the future as well.” These include a plan to reduce nitrogen levels in the sea by 40 percent, a measure scientists believe will help restore the water.
Fishermen and locals are currently trying to remove the sea breeze with nets, but so far to no avail. Biology professor Muharrem Balci from Istanbul University says that both chemical and biological means should be used to get rid of mucus.
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